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111 UMC Clergy Members Defy the Denomination’s LGBT Ban

Yesterday, 111 leaders within the United Methodist Church signed an open letter in which they came out as lesbian, gay or bisexual. The group is standing against their denomination’s ban on “self-avowed practicing homosexuals,” reports CNN. And according to a spokesperson, some 80 percent of those who signed the letter are coming out for the first time. In the letter to denominational leaders the group said, CNN reports, that the church’s rules require “that [they] not bring [their] full selves to ministry, that [they] hide from view [their] sexual orientations and gender identities.” The letter goes on to say:

While some of us have been lucky to serve in places where we could serve honestly and openly, there are others in places far more hostile, who continue to serve faithfully even at tremendous cost to themselves, their families, and yes, even the communities they serve, who do not receive the fullness of their pastor’s gifts because a core part must remain hidden.

The letter went live yesterday, just a day before the UMC begins its quadrennial General Conference in Portland, Oregon, today. For the next 10 days, more than 800 delegates will debate United Methodist church policies. The 111 people are part of a movement to lift the denomination’s restriction against on LGBT clergy and same-sex marriages.

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